by Steve Berry
Book #12 in the Cotton Malone series (2017)
The Knights of the Golden Circle, founded on July 4, 1854, was the largest, most dangerous clandestine organization in American history.
It formulated grand plans—to expand the United States, change the constitutional landscape, and forge a Southern empire, enslaving a ‘golden circle’ spanning two continents. To finance its goals, the Order amassed an amazing trove of stolen gold and silver, which they buried in hidden caches across the United States. Treasure hunters have searched for decades, but have never found any of the Order’s major hoards.
Now, 160 years later, the knights still exist. Two factions within the Order want the treasure—one to spend it, the other to preserve it. Thrust into that civil war is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone.
Starting with a hunt for clues inside the Smithsonian Institution, Malone discovers that an ancestor within his own family may hold the key to everything: a Confederate spy named Owen “Cotton” Payne. Complicating matters further are the political ambitions of a ruthless Speaker of the House and the widow of a United States Senator, who have plans of their own—plans that conflict in every way with the Order.